Vatican diplomat ‘adored’ Chávez, saved his life during 2002 coup
March 08, 2013
A Syro-Malabar prelate in India has recounted how he saved Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s life during a failed 2002 military coup.
“Chávez pleaded with me to save him,” recalls Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara of Faridabad, then the Holy See’s deputy ambassador in Venezuela and since 2012 a bishop in the northern Indian state of Haryana. “He said: ‘My life is in danger. My family and I are being held hostage at gunpoint. Please come and save me, my children.’”
“I told Chávez in Spanish that the Catholic Church never favors violence,” the prelate continued. “We respect life. ‘Mr. President, I will do everything to save your life.’ And I was determined to help him at any cost.”
Archbishop Bharanikulangara, accompanied by a cardinal and a priest, asked Chávez to accede to the generals’ demand that he leave the country. Chávez agreed to do so, but changed his mind, and within days he was back in power.
“I was impressed by his programs,” he added. “As a diplomat, I was representing the Holy See, but I adored Chavez. The Communist government came to power in Kerala in 1957. So, what Venezuela was witnessing then was what we had already experienced in the 1960s.”
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